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Wašša Mika’el

The Wadla plateau rises sharply from the southern side of the Täkkäze valley to an elevation of more than 3000 m above sea level, and is bounded to the south by the deep gorge of the River Žiṭa.

The church of Wašša Mika’el (37 km SW of Lalibela in a straight line, but 94 km by road) is situated inside an outcrop of rock in the middle of a broad valley surrounded by low hills. It occupies what is probably a natural cave that has been artificially enlarged and its entrance walled up. It is decorated inside with wall paintings in a similar style to those found in Gännätä Maryam and long friezes of hunting and herding scenes carved in low relief.

Small caves, either natural or artificial, abound in the cliffs around the valley and in the back and sides of the church outcrop. Many contain human remains, but some have been or still are used by the local community as dwellings or for storage.

On a hill 600 m north of the church are what appear to be stone footings of a structure, which local tradition claims was the palace of Yǝkunno Amlak’s grandfather, Mäḥariw Amlak. 

Approximately 3 km south of Wašša Mika’el church, a spur of rock known as Mäloṭ Amba juts out into the Žiṭa gorge 650 m below the plateau surface and 170 m above the valley floor. Accessible only by a single, precipitous route from the plateau, this is believed to have been the ‘prison’ where Yǝkunno Amlak was detained for a time before he became king.


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